Tag Archives: rain

Mouse in the house

As it’s a good season here in South Australia with rain, crops and hay so much so that the mice are breeding rapidly. Farming and mice go hand in hand and I dislike it very much. Most farm houses have cats for this reason, they catch the mice, they eat them and keep the numbers down.

Not so much in this farming enterprise, we have 4 cats, they were born feral, by that I mean feral. They were wild and as kittens my husband found them in his header and shed and got the dogs to help catch them. They lived in a cage in the shed on old woollen jumpers / sweater, then they were moved by the hay forks on the tractor to the back porch, then inside as it was a very cold winter. The farmer use to sit there and put his welding gloves on and pick them out of the cage one by one to pat them. They now after 7 years living with us, like the comforts of home, sleeping on beds and chairs.

The fourth cat Gatsby was caught, mid winter cold, starving and on the road, he now also resides inside and his favourite sleeping spot is on the top bunk. He climbs up there and sleeps. But what these four cats do is enter the house through the two cat flaps that my husband has had installed. They bring with them mice, hares, rabbits, the odd bat and reptiles of the lizard kind. They are so well fed they sometimes bring these mice in via their mouths, cough like they have a fur ball and spit the mice out, 8 out of 10 are eaten  and the other two are left to run free…. in my house.

It’s not abating, I had to travel to our major city the other day 300kms where I picked up our reusable shopping bags, left them in the car overnight. I drove to appointments and then at the end of the day without thinking about it, I grabbed them out of the car, put them in the trolley and went about my shopping. I came to the cash register, handed over my bags to the gentleman, started unloading my trolley to hear the cashier saying “ooo, ooo, umm” and as I looked up towards him I could see he was backing away from my bags. I did the eye roll and asked “is there a dead mouse in there?” he turned and looked at me “oh no love, it NOT dead.” he said I walked up to the bag, took it from him and walked it outside the shops. I emptied it into the carpark, watched the mouse run off and went back inside to complete the transaction.

The cashier looked at me and I said “it’s a country mouse and not likely to survive in the city, it’s travelled over 300 km’s to get here. He said “OMG, the last time I saw a mouse my partner saw it and screamed like a girl!’ I laughed and said “I think you nearly did too, didn’t you?” “oh yes, did you notice that?” it was funny as everyone within earshot stepped back as I went to take the bag outside to empty out the mouse. I have no idea how to be rid of them, I wish it wasn’t standard practice in farming hat you need to adapt to them, any ideas how to keep the cats from bringing them in? If you do feel free to let me know.

frank-look-alike-caryying-a-mouse

Coco, Johnny & Turnbull

I collected these two very cared for lambs on Saturday and drove them back to the farm with me, they had been very much looked after. They were twins and their mothers rejected them so the place that was breeding them took them in and gave them to families that didn’t want to see them die. Three feeds a day and warmth and company is what they got until it became too much and the beauty of caring for things is also knowing that you have reached a point where someone else needs take over and they get to move to a farm.

They have settled in well with Turnbull, so we are happy to announce the arrival of Johnny and Coco (in the coat). Turnbull would be 4 weeks old the same as Johnny but Coco (originally named chops) is only about 2 weeks old and as it’s cold, I noticed her shivering the other day so she gets to wear a designer old dog coat, till she gets bigger.

This is the animal nursery yard – which was my vegetable garden and they have a shelter which was built by the farmer which they curl up together and sleep in at night and can get out of the rain during the day. Coco baas a lot and I can imagine it would have driven neighbours mad, any sound of human means food, they are far enough away from the house that it isn’t a bothering noise, but close enough to assist should they be in danger. They will be living together for always now and they will be bottle fed till they are about 3 months old, I have changed them from 3 feeds a day to 2, which is easier to manage whilst doing everything else.

When an animal dies or mis-mothered, like in a twin birth, the mother may only accept one,the farmer will bring me the baby calf or lamb to hand rear, most people find this fun. Tt is not fun when they are hungry and they kick you, cattle are known to kick behind when scared. I have had some good leg bruises and the farmer probably has more than he could count. They get scared and kick out. Teaching a young calf to suckle can start with getting them to suck your fingers and them introducing a bottle then moving them onto a fixed feeding bin so that you can limit touch so they can be re-introduced to the mob once they are over 3 months old.

Lambs are a bit more difficult, they are beautiful when they are a couple of days old, much like puppies where they will bond immediately with you, but after about a week, they then baa whenever they see you, not only because they think they are hungry but because they like company. Rearing lambs in the city is difficult, they make a lot of noise and they are smelly (they wee and pooh a lot). Dogs will also eat their droppings and it’s awful, but mostly it’s a commitment that many are prepared for but are unable to commit to due to work and home pressures.

We welcome Johnny & Coco to the every growing, changing and challenging Caloundra Farm here in the Upper South East. You bring with you the gift of life given to you by the families that cared for you both. We thank them very much for thinking of us and asking us if we could have them. Yes, standing in the rain feeding them for me isn’t an issue, it’s called farming.

new-life

 

Rain

Rain, Isn’t that a beautiful word? especially when one hasn’t seen it for a while, in our case it is only a matter of some months but in other areas of Australia is means years. No rain for long periods is not only financially destroying, it is also mentally disabling. Farmers de stocking so as to save animals lives and to save the financial burden of feeding them daily to keep them saleable. That is ‘fit for loading’ fit for human consumption’ ‘there is so much criteria one must know in farming and having drought on top of it all makes things difficult.

We have had rain over the last couple of weeks and of the 60mil kind, this has been enough to add tinges of green to our parched paddocks, put some water in dams and freshen up the earth. It has also added a layer of carpet to our chicken coop. It looks beautiful, it actually looks like someone has come in and laid down 3 inch high grass for the chooks to step onto. It has grown so much we have had to clear from the pen opening as it was too high to swing open the gate.

I like to go up and check the chooks daily to ensure they have fresh water, straw, feed and of course to collect eggs. They are great to give scraps to, currently they are eating or pecking at cat food, our four ‘shed cats’ Matilda, Frankie, Rita & Gatsby grew up with the privilege of eating Bully’s Beef prime grass-fed mince and whiska cat nuts, so if we try to give them anything else they will sit next to it and look at us as though we are giving them arsenic. it is quite funny how they do not remember being rescued from the freezing cold of winter 100kms from no where, given warm beds, baskets, food and shelter.

They cats follow me to the chook pen, they run between the rye grass, run up trees and are highly camouflaged due to their colourings. They meow loudly at you and they have occasionally been in the chook pen lolling about waiting to catch the mice that go in there, they are not predators of these largish birds, the dogs and foxes are. Our cats like mice, bunnies, frill neck lizards, but have to date not been able to eat one due to their (the lizards) protection mechanism of hard scaled skin, we have had bats, moths and skinks as well as baby birds, ones I won’t name here as it is distressing to me. our motto is if they get brought in alive and we catch them then they are set free to get away from cats, it is up to them.

Frankie

Frankie

Matilda

Matilda

Chook pen following the rain

Chook pen following the rain

Gatsby

Gatsby

Rita

Rita

 

Winter on the Farm

Winter is a time where we all think about food and warmth and sunshine (let’s be honest here) when winter hits most people say “I can’t wait for summer” not me I do like winter, I avoid heat as much as I can. I love lying in bed listening to the rain on the rooftop, smelling the freshness of the air after the rain has stopped and love looking at the pastures go green. It is a time when we care a little bit more about each other and our animals. We have 4 cats that love the combustion heater, they have their special spots where they go to get warmth and should the fire go out at night I find the cats on the bed all trying to fit in. It can be annoying, our beautiful black / tan kelpi cattle / sheep dogs have warm coats and warm beds where at night they are secure and sleep.

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So we look out for the cattle and the sheep for cattle thanks to their thick skin, hair and natural insulation, cattle actually prefer temperatures between 40 and 65 degrees fahrenheit,  7 – 15 degrees Celsius. So being in winter in Australia suits them well, So long as the cows are well fed, healthy, and have dry bedding, they don’t mind the cold.. That said, it’s important to keep cows dry and out of the wind to keep them comfortable, this is why we have planted banks of trees fenced them off to allow them to grow and opened them up. Cattle and sheep use them in summer and winter for shelter from the elements, be that rain. cold, or heat. Every year we plant more trees, grown by volunteers from Trees for Life” and only ones native to our area, no introduced species here. These trees can be used for rubbing on and animals can also get good fibre from eating them if they wish, nothing planted here can be seen as dangerous to our animals.

Chris the farmer spends long hours out in the cold, I admire this fact, he is always out checking on them, making sure they are ok and at the moment some of them are calving so he is diligently making sure the process is easy, quiet and minimal interference from humans as possible. He will take them into the yards and help deliver if he needs to but he will go out and check them up to three times per day. This is in between all of his other work, weighing, weaning and tagging cattle as well as ensuring they get enough feed. Here he is with some of our boys, not bothered by his presence – nor mine.

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He also collects tree stumps for our combustion heaters, I am still suffering from a ruptured Achilles that I did on 14 may, running away from an escaped steer. I have been in a moon boot but it is still sore most days and I am not that much of a help to him at the moment. He did take me out to show me this tree from a storm we had early July where the thunder and lightning was really loud, here is the aftermath: a blasted tree;

 

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Autumn

Most Farmers look to the skies more often than is normal, I only ever use to take note of this when I was travelling to work or getting dressed in the morning, the only time I ever wanted a long-range forecast was when I was going to be away for 3 or more days for work. I introduced my farmer to the world of computers early on in our relationship as a great way to be in contact and without a doubt I can tell you his favourite pages include ones on the weather, farming articles from various publications, sites that sell farming equipment and a couple of the board sheet and tabloid media papers. I think the weather is one that frustrates him the most.

We have moved into the Autumn in Australia and we are looking for rain, where we live is dry and we have experienced a record-breaking summer with more days over 43 degree Celsius than one should ever wish to experience. Just because the weather is hot does not mean that farmers have a break, there is stock to move into the shade, waters to check to ensure all animals remain hydrated and troughs to fix should he find them empty. I have had to help on occasions, the livelihood of our stock is far more important than being our in the sun for a few hours.

With Autumn most farmers are looking for that break in the season, as am I, it is a worrying time of year, feedstock is running low, animals are beginning to look to moving paddocks for a change of scenery. We are looking to some decent rain, the break in the season means many things to farmers, time to sow the crops hoping the follow-up rain will come, time to ‘join’ animals for the next years off-spring. It’s a time when it’s not hot and more things can be done, it’s one of my favourite times of the year, I must admit I like winter best, I love the rain and the cold over the heat and stifling hot days of summer. I also do look to the skies at this time of year, I wish for rain to wet our parched paddocks, and this year to wet the ground that was burnt by fire. It is a time for renewal, regrowth and less stress.

It is our 7th wedding anniversary today and despite the fact I could get a gift of wool, copper and modern ‘desk set’ I wish for none, I wish for rain. ….

Now is the time for sunshine

The hazards of living on a farm can be far more complicated than people realize. We have had a great southern winter here in Australia. The farmer in the house loves rain, our rain water tanks are over flowing, they have not been full for over 3 years, we have no mains water here our farm-house is dependent on rain water. The ground has been hard from years of sunshine, yet this winter it has rained and it rained and it rained.
As a city girl one does not think rain and green grass can do any harm, it is not until you live in the country or know someone from the country that you find out, rain = grass and then bloat. Bloat for the cattle is never good, it extends their 4th stomach and can blow up until it kills them and you literally find the cattle lying on their backs with feet pointed to the sky, a distressing sign. Too much green grass can cause this, cattle like people need roughage or fibre to assist with digestion.
The farmer here checks the cattle daily during this time and we feed out hay so that they have variety in their diets. Should he find something with bloat it gets treated immediately, there are food supplements on the market and magnesium blocks that can be placed where the cattle can lick them or if you discover it too late then the only relief is to puncture the hide and stomach with a small trocar and it sounds just like letting a tyre down. The puncture is so small that it closes immediately after you remove the trocar and the cattle don’t even know they have had it done.
So with sunshine comes the growth of the naturally occurring grasses and Lucerne on the property and this provides them with all the fresh food sources they require to thrive. In Australia we are one week away from spring so we are looking forward to some warmth for the ground and for ourselves.

Here is a picture taken yesterday 25/8/2013 and you can see we are green but very hazy due to light rain, these are some of our steers and they are starting to look really great, you can see by their feet it’s very muddy.

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